Design Thinking

Kodak Moment

Good insights from Forbes on the Design Thinking framework and strategic inflection points.

Despite effectively inventing the digital camera, and investing millions in the development of digital technologies during the 1990s, the company decided against selling digital cameras, choosing to instead continue developing film cameras, fearing the move to digital would heavily damage their existing business. Those within the company decided that, because digital picture quality was relatively poor compared to film, there would be no significant demand for the product. The repercussions of this decision proved to be the company’s undoing.

By not taking the trouble to ask potential customers for their opinions, Kodak was left on the back foot when the likes of Canon and Nikon, who had not been seen as fierce competition before, swiftly moved into the digital camera market and quickly won customer approval. When Kodak finally did manage to put a digital camera on the market they again read consumer demand incorrectly: though their camera produced a far superior image, the price was far out of the reach of most families’ budgets. What killed Kodak was not incorporating ‘design thinking’ into their innovation and business development

Being able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer always has been and still is vital for businesses to succeed. This is the essence of design thinking. However, many products and services fail as a result of managers not consulting with or listening to the needs of their target audiences.


  1. Undoubtedly all businesses will face a strategic inflection point. The “disrupt or be disrupted” fear/motivation should continually be in the back of your mind.

  2. Ask customers for feedback. Conduct surveys, monitor NPS, invite a handful of customers to HQ once in a while and ask them questions while watching them interact with the product/service in real-time.

Photo credit:  Unsplash

Photo credit: Unsplash